Sade for Sade’s sake, 2009

Paul Chan

Production Year


Inspired by the writings and philosophies of Marquis De Sade (1740–1814), Paul Chan’s 5 hour and 45 minute-long projection titled Sade for Sade’s sake (2009) premiered at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Chan projects onto an irregular surface, extending what he has called the “spectral materialism” of projected moving images and their relationship to static architectural spaces. Organized in the form of a ballad, Sade for Sade’s sake comprises forty-five second scenes, interrelated like lines in a poem. The quivering, shadow-like imagery depicts naked human bodies in discursive, rhythmic, and orgiastic movements. Abstract shadows of geometric shapes float among the bodies like artwork hung on walls, windows in a room, or even devotional objects. As the narrative progresses, the intensity of bodily interaction grows; eventually, the entire projection erupts in trembling forms and part-objects, evoking how Sade’s obsessions with sex, violence, freedom, and reason echo in the 21st century.